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Omega 'Spitfire'?

18325 Views 23 Replies 12 Participants Last post by  M4tt
Reading the '53 omega post I was interested to discover Omega's 'On Her Majesty's service' page on their website:

OMEGA Watches: On Her Majesty's Service

Which is an entertaining spin on Omega's involvement with the UK armed and security forces both real and imaginary.

However, there was one paragraph that caused me to raise an eyebrow in a manner Roger Moore would have been proud of.

Omega said:
Watches created exclusively for British military personnel are nothing new for OMEGA. As far back as World War I, it supplied the Royal Flying Corps with its pilots' 'cockpit' watches (there was a special holder on the dashboard to mount them). These were in use up to the late thirties, until clocks were introduced into aircraft. They were followed by the so-called 'Spitfire' wristwatches (actually issued to pilots and navigators of many aircraft types) during WW2. The later Royal Air Force (RAF) model of 1953 features an oversized crown so it can be used while wearing flight gloves, and is one of the most highly prized of all collectable OMEGAS.
Now, the paragraph is followed by a picture of an Omega CK2292, otherwise known as a 6b/159. As a matter of historical fact, these were the first Omega wristwatches that were offered to the RAF and so I assume that the sentence in bold refers to them. So far so good. My problem is that I have never ever heard of any Omega being referred to as 'The Spitfire' and I certainly have never heard of this one being called 'The Spitfire'. Given that I own three of them and take obsessive research of such things to a level that many would regard as geeky, I'm pretty certain that I'd have noticed if a watch I like was called 'The Spitfire', not least because another mild area of interest of mine is aircraft and well, you know...

So I smell a rat. I may be wrong, but I rather suspect that someone at Omega is trying to make a connection that in reality is more than a little tenuous. First, as far as I know, no one calls the CK2292 anything apart from The 6b/159 and occasionally 'The Royal Air Force Watch' as this is how the Omega Vintage Database refers to it. Googling 'Omega Spitfire' demonstrates that while a few people are trying to connect the two in pursuit of a sale, no one is calling the watch by that name.

Now I could be wrong, and if there are people calling the CK2292 'The Spitfire' then I guess they'd be here at one point or another and can put me right, but unless that happens, I suspect that this is an ad agency fantasy that's trying to pimp the humble CK2292 by making a connection with the fighter boys and the Battle of Britain.

These watches have never had the glamour of the of the later watches like the 6b/542 for the simple reason that, at 33mm and with a snap back, they don't really appeal to modern sensibilities. When this is combined with confusion about the two colour schemes, HS8 versions and the recasing of many of them in Dennison Aquatite cases in 1956, the 6b/159 is a bit of a minefield. Obviously Omega have decided to pull hard on their military connection, but I'm not sure that making stuff up is the way forward.

The CK 2292 was a tender to fulfil the 6b/159 specification and would have just started arriving in 1940. It was designed as a navigator's watch with high accuracy. These would not, at the time, have been automatically issued to Spitfire pilots for the simple reason that the MKII Spitfire was a short range, fine weather, day interceptor equipped with HF radio to allow it to be directed from the ground. Accurate long range 'blind' navigation of day fighters was far from a priority, the pilots were under orders to break off combat at the coast and use a map if lost unless damaged.. The MKII Spitfire was equipped with a standard Smiths eight day clock, which, looking at the MKII from the Battle of Britain Flight, is tucked right out of the way just above the magneto switches on the far left of the panel. Thus, if caught out to sea, or above unbroken cloud in an area with high ground and with a failed radio, a pilot could still navigate by a clock they'd be able to see at a glance rather than a watch that would be under several layers of wool, silk and sheepskin in the MKII's unheated cockpit.

In short, when the 6b/159 specification Omega started arriving, the people pretty well least likely to get them would have been Spitfire pilots. As the war continued, the small contribution from Omega was absolutely dwarfed by the US delivered 6b/234 models from Waltham, Elgin and so on, (which can still, be picked up for absolute peanuts, but are a teeny bit radioactive...) In other words, I'm sure that one or two Spitfire pilots would have flown with the Omega 6b/159, but if Omega really wanted to name the watch after an aircraft that they would have been likely to be used in then they should be called 'The Wellington'. I quite like the idea of a wellington watch...

That's a bit of a blather, but the bottom line is that, afaik, no one calls the CK2292 'The Spitifire' and there is precious little historical reason for doing so. Naughty Omega.

Mind you:

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Good to hear from you Matt.

I just wanted to share a video that is sort of related in that it involves long distance, reconnaissance spitfire.

SPITFIRE 944 - YouTube

hope you find it interesting.
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That's a marvelous film. I really enjoyed it. Thank you!

I don't know if you ever saw this:

Wreck diving with a PRS14

There's quite a lot of interesting stuff spread throughout the thread, so keep scrolling.
Wow Matt, thanks for sharing your post on TZ, very interesting, great write up, pictures and great info. :)

Have you been out to any other wrecks since?
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